Thursday, 15 September 2011

Going to 'Baboon House'? Try Professor Junkman

(First published in May 2006)
BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
EVERY profession has its uncommon personalities: those who defy definitions. The visual arts has one in Dilomprizulike a.k.a Junkman from Africa. He confirmed his status as an abami eda (demon) at the Ticket to Baboon House show, which ran from April 22 through May 5 at the Goethe Institut, Victoria Island, Lagos.
  Predictably, Diplomprizulike’s performance, which preceded the viewing of the installation, left everyone as confused as the artist himself.
  The performance, he explains to his audience, is a classroom kind while he is the teacher of the day, otherwise known as ‘Professor Junk’
  The subject expectedly, was nothing but the African question of underdevelopment. He takes his class through what he describes as "mathematical equation" of our decaying social values. From analysis of the class difference in the society, with Lagos as a case-study — Lagos Island and Lagos Mainland — Junkman seems to be saying that everyone has its own share of grey spot, irrespective of comfort or discomfort. This much, a visitor to the show could squeeze out of his class of mathemathical confusion.



Junkman assembling his sculptures of awkward odd materials

AND to the installations proper, they were divided into three segments. Two sets in the exhibition hall while the one outside shared space with the artist's strange classroom.           
  Perhaps the set of installation that a visitor could easily identify with is an assembly of 12 figures, each in its mixed media forms of wastes, depicting people of different classes, men, women, young and old.
  Even as junky as these works were, the artistic communication was not lost. For example, the gender line was well cut out among the figures.
The artist in his usual element had each figure built of rag and wastes. Shaping female anatomy, for instance, with coconut for breast or pieces of wood as legs, buttresses the hidden artistic quality behind the 'junk' art.
  But these parade of sculptures, carry no titles, a deviation from the artist's past works that usually have titles. For example, Waitin for Bus, one of his exhibits at the last Afrika Remix show in the United Kingdom. That work, to a large extent, helps in communicating the message better with a well-cut-out title.
The other two sets of installations are what could be called metal junks with no pronounced shapes unlike the former. Call them images, but the ‘sculpture’ are mostly of rustic metals though with some faint traces of images.
He sums up the show thus: "I am moulding a mirrror for the society. My works are there for you to see, if you can’t see, then feel, and if you can’t feel, then smell, but if you can’t smell…well you are on your own."
And where is Baboon House?  "Your Abuja, Ajegunle, etc, wherever your abode is," he says.
While the puzzle over this kind of art lasts, one  may contend that art without mass appeal or potential for followership has a shorter lifespan. 


DIPLOMPRIZULIKE is a widely travelled artist who has participated in several shows aboad including the two editions of Africa Remix in Germany and United Kingdom.
  Born in Enugu, Nigeria, in 1960 as Okwudili Humphrey Umezulike, the self-styled 'Junkman From Africa'  has his museum of wastes situated in Lekki, in the outskirts of Lagos.
  Drawing materials from the piles of used surplus clothes found on the streets, he fashions installations and performances that look at what he describes as 'the alienated situation of the African in his own society.'
Having obtained his first degeree in Fine Art from University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1988, he later went to University of Dundee, Scotland for his MFA. 

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